Igesund honoured to be playing Mandela

By Drum Digital
16 August 2013

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund says he and his players are honoured to be taking part in the inaugural Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

"We as a team feel very proud and we're very honoured that we are able to contribute," Igesund said ahead of their friendly fixture against Burkina Faso.

"We're not only contributing by being there and supporting the event, we're actually playing a part.

"Mandela is the greatest statesman of all time, I don't think there will ever be a statesman like him again."

The day's events, in recognition of the former president's contribution to sport in South Africa, would comprise three major matches at the stadium.

First up would be a South African 'Legends' soccer team taking on an Italian 'Masters' outfit, followed by the Bafana game,

In an unprecedented initiative, the Springboks then host Argentina, in their 2013 Rugby Championship opener, at the same venue.

Bafana would have to pick themselves up for the game which comes just three days after their disappointing 2-0 defeat to Nigeria in Durban on Wednesday.

Although Igesund's men created a few promising goal-scoring opportunities, the hosts were ultimately outclassed by a superior side, who continue their march toward the World Cup in Brazil next year.

For Bafana Bafana, the match served as preparation for the crucial 2014 World Cup qualifier against Botswana next month.

Burkina Faso, meanwhile, return to the ground where they finished runners-up in this year's Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament, narrowly going down to Nigeria in the final.

Since their stellar run in the continental showpiece, the Burkinabe had continued their good form under coach Paul Put, and headed into Saturday's encounter on the back of a 2-1 win over Morocco midweek.

Igesund hinted he could give both young and fringe players an opportunity to show their worth in the national set-up.

"They need to get used to playing with the (Siphiwe) Tshabalalas and the (Itumeleng) Khunes of this team," Igesund said.

"When you're a young player, you do get intimidated. I want them to get out there and the only way for them to do that is for them to be with us.

"They have to keep playing and continuously performing. Tomorrow, one or two of them could be on the field and I'm hoping they can go out there and express themselves."

He wanted the youngsters to grab the opportunity with both hands and express their styles, free of fear from the opposition, he said.

"I want them to have the exuberance of a youngster, the arrogance of a youngster. I don't want to see them being scared.

"We as a country need to support these players. Any opportunity I get, I'm going to try and get the young players to come into the squad and be around these guys (senior players)."

-Sapa

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